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Mi Huerta Program

Mi Huerta aims to alleviate child malnutrition in Argentina through the construction of agroecological community gardens in primary schools.

Photo of Fundación Huerta Niño
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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

The objective of the Mi Huerta Program is to reverse the conditions of poor nutrition in primary schools located in rural and -now- urban areas of Argentina, through the construction and start-up of vegetable gardens in disadvantaged areas for the self - sustaining production of quality agroecological food that supplies the school dining rooms (where children receive their sole daily meals). FHN fosters inclusion, community cohesion and manifestly improves the psychophysical development of children, ensuring nutritional education throughout the entire elementary schooling. Self-management and local development are encouraged by recovering traditional agroecological techniques. The characteristics of the local culture and identity are revalorized: gardens are inserted in the community by appropriation of its protagonists stimulating the development from a territorial approach from the very center of the community: the school. 1-School teachers identify cases of malnutrition amongst students. Daily school meals are of very low nutritional value. 2-School contacts FHN and submits a simple proposal 3-Huerta Niño Foundation visits the school and meets authorities, teachers and other community actors (parents, neighbours, community organizations) to jointly design final project, specifically adapted and tailor made for the space, soil and climate conditions of the school. A plan is put in place with the involvement of the community. 4-FHN carries out a survey of school resources, then makes purchase of materials with local suppliers and the construction is done with the voluntary work force of the community and the technical support of local technicians. The school takes responsibility for the sustainability of the project with FHN s support. 5-FHN accompanies the development of the garden to ensure appropiation and trains the actors. Garden starts supplying the school dining rooms: diversified diet, better use of school budget. It mainsteams the curriculum.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

FHN`s beneficiaries are communities under extreme vulnerability. Direct beneficiaries of our activity are school-aged children from very underpriviledged rural communities of Argentina, as gardens are located within the premises of schools. The program supports women heads of household and who are temporary alone (due to the itinerant rural work conditions) and numerous underserved and isolated indigenous communities. The families in the communities we serve are, in most of the cases, large: 37% of the rural families we reach are comprised by 4+ children. The children indirectly benefited by the program are non-school-aged children, siblings/relatives/neighbors of those who attend the schools reached by FHN. The children indirectly served by the program improve their health and nutrition from the early stages of their life and ensure better opportunities for their future.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

Every intervention is unique,designed to last. When there is the possibility to develop new solutions, FHN adapts to all environments and conditions and observes the following techniques to address possible adverse climate and soil conditions and to allow for year-round production of fruits and vegetables: -Adjusting the timing of farm operations: planting or sowing dates and treatments. -Protecting orchards from frost damage (construction of greenhouses, protective structures). -Choosing crops and varieties better adapted to the expected length of the growing season and water availability more resistant to specific conditions of temperature and humidity. -Counteracting the wear and degradation of soils through diversified crop rotations techniques. -Improving the effectiveness of agroecological pest and disease control through agroecological pest management methods. -Using water more efficiently by reducing water losses, improving irrigation practices, recycling or storing wate

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Early Adoption: I have completed a pilot and analyzed the impact of that pilot on the intended users of the idea. I have begun to expand the pilot for early adoption.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

"Children cannot learn because they are hungry," was the phrase that acted as a trigger for our founder Felipe Lobert when, in late 60s, he embarked on a field trip to the northern region of Argentina. In his meeting with rural teachers and other referents of the isolated communities he visited, he took dimension of the needs and deep inequalities, unfathomable for a country with wealth and great diversity of natural resources. Felipe designed a low cost effective solution to combat hunger.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

Planet - degradation of soils, water shortage and polution (climate change). All these factors have undermined the small farmers capacity to self-sustain. Prosperity has been impacted by political unrest, lack of local development public policies, indiscriminated industralized agriculture (monoculture) that led to peasant populations forced migration. Mi Huerta is a so far successful idea with enormous potential to keep addressing the critical scourge of hunger and malnutrition in a country with untapped resources to feed its children. The expansion of the agricultural frontier failed to respond to a comprehensive territorial - local based program that took into account the needs of thousands of peasant families (our main beneficiaries). The program fosters the revalue of traditional rural knowledge and tackles forced migration and uprooting of agricultural communities while providing a potential economic activity, as 1/3 of families replicate the program in their homes.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

Detect the high commitment of the community is a priority condition to determine the intervention of FHN in an institution. It is even more important than the technical aspects. Throughout the survey visits, the community's commitment is detected and the project seeks to institutionalize the garden project by incorporating it into the school curriculum. In the first stage of the project agreements are signed with the school authorities to establish the responsibilities for proper management and maintenance of the orchard that guarantees the sustainability of the initiative. The foundation provides new training, according to the need expressed by schools to promote proper maintenance and continuity of the classroom-orchard and production to supply the dining room. Partnerships include but it is not limited to: parents, relatives neighbours, school authorities and teachers.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

Among all the almost 500 communities in which we operate we have identified young people ready to work for the benefit of their children, that are constantly reinforcing the commitmment with their communities and actively engage with the Foundation. Furthermore, the vegetable gardens have brought an alternative income by fostering small productive entrepreneurships, manifestly boosting prosperity.

Geographic Focus

The idea targets all regions of Argentina with focus on those with greater food insecurity rates.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

12 months per project (building and set up) 24 months of regular training, follow up and close support from Huerta Niño Foundation.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • Yes

If Yes, how has project idea changed, grown, or evolved since last year? (2,000 characters)

In 2016, FHN took the decision to rethink, redesign the program. In 2017 we adapted our successful rural school program to challenge a different scenario: the urban school. The two segments show different problems and needs. The schools of the city show adversities typical of urban poverty and concentration of population. There are high rates of school dropouts, cases of violence, demotivation, loss of contact with nature, deteriorated soils, housing deficit, very precarious waste management, alarming rates of malnutrition and sedentarism. We have so far built vegetable gardens in 130 urban communities in the country. As an example of the relevance of this approach: out of 40 million inhabitants, 15 million are settled in the City of Buenos Aires. We now have the technical capacity to implement programs in both areas. Huerta Niño tackles both the need of rooting in the place of origin and the communities adaptation to new urban environment and their resilience. As a result of the abovementioned successful expansion into urban areas and the quality improvements in the existing projects, Mi Huerta Program was distinguished and Certified as International Social Technology by Fundacao Banco do Brasil and the Social Technology Institute / ITS, 2017.


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